In the Paddy stubble management case, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has now summoned Secretary of Government of Punjab to be present on next date of hearing on September 1 after hearing the counsels for farmers and Punjab government. Tribunal wants to hear from the secretary of the government that what concrete steps are being taken by the government to manage straw.
In Punjab 197 lakh tonnes’ (19.7 Million tonnes) paddy stubble is produced annually and like wheat crop straw, paddy straw is not used to make fodder for cattle here. Now the government is asking farmers to attach’Super SMS’ (Straw Management System) which will cut and shred the straw at the time of harvesting of paddy only. But farmers are not ready for SMS fitment on the pretext that it is costly affair for them.
In Punjab only 45 lakh tonnes of paddy straw including nearly 25 lakh tonnes of Basmati rice crop, which is used to make fodder, is being managed currently and remaining 152 Lakh tonnes paddy straw is being burnt in fields.
The counsel of farmers IK Kapila informed the Tribunal that Punjab Government is simply issuing orders regarding to the attachment of the ‘Super SMS’ with the combine-harvesters but not doing anything substantial to help farmers in stopping crop residue burning.
Counsel Kapila said that none of other 4 states including Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi except Punjab is forcing farmers to fit super SMS with combine harvesters although Govt itself have admitted before Tribunal that it has withdrawn orders of January 4, 2017 making compulsory fitment of super SMS with combine harvesters.
“We informed the tribunal that farmers are fully supporting judgment of the tribunal banning crop residue burning but policies and action plan of Punjab Government is such that farmers are unable to meet the challenge of utilising about 20 days window before Rabi crops, which are sown in November, sowing due to reduced efficiency and almost double cost of super SMS which may lead to forced burning of crop residue by farmers in absence of facilities and incentives as directed by the tribunal,” said Advocate Kapila.
After such argument NGT summoned Secretary Punjab on September 1.
Director Punjab Agricultural JS Bains said that through they have already submitted the plan for Patiala district that how 23 lakh tonnes of paddy straw of that district would be managed by using in power plant, through stubble management machinery and same will be replicated in other districts.
Director Bains, said that they have explained their case in detail before the Tribunal and also trying to change the mentality of the farmers. He said that they are demanding Rs. 1602 crores for straw management machinery but centre is not ready to give this amount and even Punjab government has proposed Rs. 100 per incentive for per quintal paddy so as to manage the stubble but centre did not pay heed towards it too. “We are too for stopping the field fires but for that every one including farmers, combine manufacturers and centre government will have to do joint efforts as Punjab is a special case where rice is gown on nearly 29 lakh hectares land and its straw is not used for making cattle fodder.,” emphasised Director.
A senior scientist of Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) Ludhiana, said, “no doubt that several straw chopping and spreading equipments are available in Punjab even before the proposal of ‘Super SMS’ fitment with harvester but there is no guarantee that every farmer will use this machinery after harvesting of paddy because state does not have large number of such machinery. But with the fitment of Super SMS with every harvester then every field of Punjab will have chopped straw, which can be managed easily after wards, at the time of harvesting only and it will be beneficial and cost effective in long run”.